Welcome back to Golf News Net’s weekly fantasy golf picks. Each week of the PGA Tour season, we’ll present our top picks for that week’s tournament and make recommendations for DraftKings’ one-week fantasy leagues.
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It’s time for the world’s major championship this week. It’s time for the 2016 Open Championship…or maybe the British Open. Whatever the name, it’s links golf at Royal Troon, and that has us excited.
The Scottish Open came to a thrilling finish, while the PGA Tour was forced into the rare off week by the flooding in West Virginia that cancelled The Greenbrier Classic. We have our top 15 picks for you for free, and our GNN Plus subscribers get a ton more information!
For GNN Plus subscribers, you can access our NEW searchable database of PGA Tour results from 2011-present, our top-15 finish chart and season-long trends on DraftKings valuations. They’ll be available at your disposal as part of a growing set of tools to help in your research.
2016 British Open Championship top 15 picks
1. Dustin Johnson — Won two in a row and is playing the best golf of his life. His length will be an asset going out with the predominant trade winds and coming in against it. He has a surprisingly strong Open record.
2. Jason Day — Day is built for tough golf courses, and he found himself in contention late at the U.S. Open and at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
3. Adam Scott — If there’s a modern horse for the British Open, it’s Adam Scott. He’s a top-15 machine in this championship. He plays links golf well. He should have won one (2012) by now.
4. Jordan Spieth — A native Texan, Spieth makes a lot of sense in windy conditions. He was a shot out of the three-man playoff here last year.
5. Rory McIlroy — Normally, I run away from Rory McIlroy in potentially windy conditions, which is Troon’s primary defense for half the course (you pick the half). However, McIlroy took on tough conditions to win his first Irish Open earlier this year. If rain continues to soften the course, McIlroy is going to be a big fan of Troon.
6. Danny Willett — Willett has proven he’s a strong bad-weather player, demonstrating his ability to grind out good scores at a tough Masters. Look for that to continue.
7. Zach Johnson — The defending champion could easily rank higher. Not only does he have a very strong Open Championship record — one of three players to make the cut in each of the last five years — but he showed very nicely at Oakmont.
8. Matt Kuchar — Kuchar is playing tremendously consistent golf. He’s been in the top six in five of his last six starts. His low ball flight works well for the Open. His fade doesn’t really, but he makes it work with good past results.
9. Sergio Garcia — If Sergio Garcia is going to win a major championship, it’s going to be the Open. He almost beat Padraig Harrington in a playoff in 2007. He has the imagination to play this style of golf. He was in it at the Open until a few rough holes in the middle of the final nine at Oakmont.
10. Branden Grace — Grace seems to continue to fly under the radar in golf’s biggest events despite the growing body of evidence that he can and will continue to shine in majors. He’s got a grit about his game that isn’t flashy but puts him on the first or second page of the leaderboard at the end.
11. Lee Westwood — Westwood has found himself in it deep in both of the first two majors of this year. It seems his decision to focus on the European Tour and taking more time away from competitive golf has been helping.
12. Charl Schwartzel — Schwartzel has developed a good Open record, and he had a solid showing at the U.S. Open. He was T-7 two years ago.
13. Phil Mickelson — Mickelson had an encouraging finish at Castle Stuart in the Scottish Open. He’s a past champion here, of course. More importantly, the Open has been the most friendly major to players over 35 in recent years.
14. Hideki Matsuyama — Matsuyama is on a slide of late, but he’s played very well this season in windy and difficult conditions, including a T-6 at Bay Hill, T-7 at the Masters and T-7 at The Players.
15. Graeme McDowell — Just like last week, consider this a hunch. McDowell is all or nothing, so he may not be great in certain games, but if you need a value player who could rack up a lot of points, he’s your guy.
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My DraftKings team for this week:
1. Adam Scott – $10,600
2. Danny Willett – $9,200
3. Zach Johnson – $8,100
4. Charl Schwartzel – $7,800
5. Nicolas Colsaerts – $7,200
6. David Lingmerth – $6,700
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If you want to win at DraftKings daily fantasy golf, you have to figure out a way to find six golfers that play all 72 holes and earn roughly 85 points each.
You likely have to identify a couple of players in the top five, at least the top seven, and you’d ideally not have a player finish outside the top 20.
Doing that takes research, looking at a variety of factors, including:
- Finish trends, both in recent weeks on the PGA Tour and at that week’s event,
- Salary trends, deciphering which players are showing value based on their performance, and
- Statistical trends, identifying the common threads among winners in that week’s event
That’s what Golf News Net will deliver each week to GNN Plus members in this space, offering a complete research package which dives into these three areas to find the players that should be in your lineup for this week.
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We start by looking at the recent past, back at players who have finished inside the top 15 in the last five PGA Tour events — not their last five starts. Here are the players in this week’s field with the most top-15 finishes in the last five non-opposite-field PGA Tour events:
- Dustin Johnson – 4 – 3rd the Memorial Tournament, 5th FedEx St. Jude Classic, WIN U.S. Open, WIN WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
- Branden Grace – 2 – T-5 U.S. Open, T-10 WGC-Bridgestone Invtiational
- Charl Schwartzel – 2 – T-11 the Memorial Tournament, T-7 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
- David Lingmerth – 2 – T-12 U.S. Open, T-7 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
- Emiliano Grillo – 2 – T-11 the Memorial Tournament, T-14 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
- Jason Day – 2 – T-8 U.S. Open, T-3 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
- Matt Kuchar – 2 – T-4 the Memorial Tournament, T-3 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
- Scott Piercy – 2 – 2nd U.S. Open, 2nd WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
- Webb Simpson – 2 – T-11 the Memorial Tournament, T-6 Quicken Loans National
- William McGirt – 2 – WIN the Memorial Tournament, T-7 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
- Zach Johnson – 2 – T-8 U.S. Open, T-10 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
We’re also interested in the players in the field that have finished in the top 20 (not the usual top 15) at The Open multiple times in the last five years:
- Adam Scott – 4
- Zach Johnson – 4
- Charl Schwartzel – 3
- Dustin Johnson – 3
- Phil Mickelson – 3
- Sergio Garcia – 3
- Angel Cabrera – 2
- Brandt Snedeker – 2
- Danny Willett – 2
- Francesco Molinari – 2
- George Coetzee – 2
- Graeme McDowell – 2
- Hideki Matsuyama – 2
- Ian Poulter – 2
- Keegan Bradley – 2
- Louis Oosthuizen – 2
- Luke Donald – 2
- Marc Leishman – 2
- Martin Kaymer – 2
- Matt Kuchar – 2
- Miguel Angel Jimenez – 2
- Rickie Fowler – 2
Ideally, we want to find players who are both playing well now and have a history of playing well at the British Open. Our guys this week: Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson.
DraftKings salaries change from week to week, depending on field strength and size, as well a player’s recent record and their history on a course. It’s in looking at how a salary changes over time that we might get some clues as to players that could be a little overrated or underrated.
Here’s the list of players in the field playing $500 over their average salary this season, with most players undervalued in this field:
- Matt Fitzpatrick
- Ernie Els
- Chris Wood
- Dustin Johnson
- Martin Kaymer
- Shane Lowry
- Lee Westwood
Here are players with multiple top 15 finishes in their last five events that are playing this week more than $1,000 below their average salary this season:
- Charl Schwartzel – $1,209 BELOW
- Emiliano Grillo – $1,127 BELOW
- Matt Kuchar – $2,135 BELOW
- Webb Simpson – $1,287 BELOW
- William McGirt – $1,187 BELOW
- Zach Johnson – $1,437 BELOW
2004 Open at Troon
Here are players in the field that finished inside the top 20 in the 2004 Open:
1. Todd Hamilton
2. Ernie Els
3. Phil Mickelson
4. Lee Westwood
T-11. Mark Calcavecchia
T-11. Darren Clarke
T-16. Justin Leonard
Royal Troon is a tough nut to crack. The main reason is that we’ve only seen it two times in the last 19 years. It’s critical to recognize that the par-71 track is short of par 5s — although there are other short-ish holes on the golf course. It’s also important to note that players handle two of the three par 5s in the middle of the front nine, when the wind should be helping significantly. The other key factor is that the deciding nine is played typically into a stiff breeze, meaning it’s going to be a grind at the tail end of the round each day.
So, the big stat for me this week is back nine scoring, showcasing players who finish strong and can handle tough conditions the best:
1. Jordan Spieth
T-2. Adam Scott
4. Steve Stricker
T-5. Jason Day
T-5. Dustin Johnson
T-5. Charl Scwhartzel
10. Matt Kuchar
11. Daniel Summerhays
13. Rod Pampling
T-14. Harris English
T-16. Graeme McDowell
18. Rickie Fowler
T-20. Henrik Stenson
23. Zach Johnson